By Arnold Neliba
BRUSSELS, MAY 19, 2023 (CISA)-Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto has in a visit to Belgium discussed Nigeria’s challenges following the disputed presidential election in February.
The May 16 meeting was co-organized by the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) and the Community of Sant’Egidio.
“He stressed the need to strengthen the rule of law and implement public policies that serve all citizens, without distinction of faith and social class, towards a responsible and integral development that leaves no one behind. Mgr. Kukah also warned against the risks of the instrumentalization of religion and called on Nigerian society to create a favourable environment for social, economic and labour advancement,” COMERE reported on May 17.
During the meeting, COMECE says Bishop Kukah highlighted the positive role of healthy public institutions and solid social fabric in promoting a functional democracy in Nigeria.
In April, Bishop Kukah voiced his sadness on how courts in the country have been invaded by the political class who have left behind “toxic fumes” that now threaten the judiciary’s reputation as the last hope for all citizens. And as the hearing of the presidential petition continues, he termed it a “difficult challenge”.
“To the Honorable Justices of the Bench: You face difficult challenges ahead and you are mortals. The future of our country hangs on your deliberations. I will not judge you. I can only pray that God gives you grace. It will be up to you to decide how you use that gift which no amount of influence or power can buy,” he said in April.
Since May 2020, COMECE has been calling on the European Union, its member states, and the entire international community to increase their efforts to stop violence in Nigeria and promote national dialogue and peace.
In a show of solidarity with the Catholic community in Nigeria and expression of brotherly concern, in June 2020, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ, the then President of COMECE sent a letter to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), expressing solidarity to the Christian communities facing a situation of continuous attacks that, in some cases, reach levels of criminal persecution.
The Nigerian Bishop was received by COMECE General Secretary Fr Manuel Barrios Prieto and other Church and European Union representatives, including His Excellency Archbishop Noel Treanor, the Apostolic Nuncio to the European Union, the European Commission Coordinator Vincent Depaigne, Marcela Szymanski of Aid to the Church in Need, and Jan De Volder Comunità di Sant’Egidio.